Thursday, January 31, 2013

Elsewhere by Richard Russo

I've only read a handful of Russo's books, but liked Empire Falls and Bridge of Sighs. His writing is rich and the places he describes come alive.

This is a memoir of his growing up in Gloversville with his mom. His dad left when he was young. Russo writes about his relationship with his mom, especially their relationship when he is an adult.

This book gets repetitive as his mom moves frequently and Moving Day is described again and again. I lost track of everywhere she moved and why.

There were some thoughtful insights, but also some boring pages as well.

This was more of a miss than a hit, but if you've liked Russo's other books and the towns he's written about, you might find the beginning of this book pretty interesting.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

I've never really listened to the radio or audio books that much. However, this summer I spent a bunch of time traveling around by train and loaded up on pod casts to prepare myself for the next city/country I was headed to. Listening to lectures on the city's art, culture, and history was really fun and increased my excitement about exploring the next city. I discovered that I actually absorbed quite a bit of information by listening. This inspired me to start listening to audio books.

This is the first audio book that I've listened to. I've read Jacobs' other books before, and liked The Year of Living Biblically much more than The Know-It-All. I also wanted to listen to the book while I exercised and figured that it would be motivational to listen to a book about exercising while exercising. And, it really was! I looked forward to exercising so that I could listen to more of his book.

Jacobs' tackled spirituality and intellect in his other books, so in this one, he takes two years to try and become the healthiest human ever. He combines research with practice and tries out diets, different types of exercise, and other healthy habits. His efforts really paid off the end of the two years, he's lost weight and has some very impressive cholesterol numbers.

He also writes about what's going on with his own life at the time, so the book is not just tale of one diet after another.

This is a very funny book. It is also very informative. I even adopted some of his healthy practices into my own life. This book is also quite touching. He shares about his life and I actually really cared.


Note: I'm going to continue listening to audio books while I exercise, and will write about them here, but will always note if it was an audio book.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott

The author spent six months as an exchange student in Paris. She lived with a family, and this book tells the lessons she learned from them. There are three sections: Diet & Exercise, Style & Beauty, and How to Live Well.

This is a really easy book to read. She tells some funny stories and there are some inspirational things to think about in terms of how to live a more luxurious and fulfilling life.

I did wonder throughout about how much she idealized French culture and French women. This is because when I told my husband's co-worker, a Frenchman living in Paris, about the book French Kids Eat Everything, he exclaimed, "It's propaganda! It's all propaganda! My son's 'everything' is pasta!"

The author also tries to balance Madame Chic with a bohemian French lady, but didn't really work with the flow of the book. It was a distraction.

Anyway, read this book, but with a grain of salt. It is a fun, very easy book to read that includes some tips that might improve how you experience daily life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Do you remember your high school years? Yah, I try not to. So, if you don't want to walk down that memory lane of high school again, don't read this book because it will take you straight there.

Charlie is a high school freshman trying to make his way through the year and navigate that hallway of friends, dates, family, and classmates. Ugh. It is painful, and awkward, and embarrassing.

This was a great book. It was so good that I don't think I would re-read it again because it was so spot on in describing the high school experience, and I don't need that again quite yet. I'm actually thinking about watching the movie, but I might need someone to hold my hand.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

In general, I like Kingsolver's books. I especially enjoyed The Prodigal Summer and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. However, I bought her last book, The Lacuna, started reading it, and actually returned it to Amazon because I really did not like it at all.

So, it was with some hesitation that I picked up Flight Behavior.

Dellarobia is a farmer's wife who married young because she got pregnant. Now, ten years into the marriage, she feels restless, and is about to embark on an affair. As she hikes the mountain behind her house headed to meet her extramarital someone, she comes across what appears to be a field of fire. This discovery changes the community and it also changes Dellarobia.

This book was not my favorite. I appreciate Kingsolver's background in biology and the detail and knowledge that comes out of this book about global warming. I liked a few of the characters. But mostly the book felt flat to me. There were a couple of twists, but they didn't really make any emotional impact. Something was missing.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Memoir of the Sunday Brunch by Julia Pandl

The Sunday Brunch mentioned in the title refers to the brunch at Julia's father's restaurant. At the age of 12, she is initiated (just like her eight siblings before her) into the prepping and serving of the Sunday brunch.

Julia writes a lot about her younger years, and her time working at the restaurant with her dad. There are plenty of details and stories so that I got a really good sense of what life was like for her and her family.

Then, Part II skips into adulthood and the end-of-life years of her parents. In Part II, Julia also starts writing "Twitter" like in these very short paragraphs. Part II skips around and there seems to be big chunks of life and time missing. It felt disjointed and confusing. There are some touching moments, but Part II seemed like someone else had written it.

So, how can I recommend that you just read the first half of a book? I can't. So although I enjoyed the first half, the second half was too confusing for me to recommend this book to you. Skip!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett

My sister gave me this book for Christmas. I loved receiving a book as a present! Most of the books I read are either checked out from the library or bought at used book sales so I rarely ever read a brand new book.

I enjoyed reading this book AND smelling this book.When was the last time you smelled a brand new paperback book?? Speaking of the New Book smell, I'd like to thank my faithful blog readers out there who have sent me links to Paper Passion, a perfume that smells like new books!

Onto the book! A Dangerous Fortune takes place in the late 1800s and begins at England's Windfield School when a drowning takes place. The truth about the drowning will haunt a circle of friends and their families for the next three decades. Lives of all sorts of people from all different parts of society are intertwined as the truth about all sorts of things threatens to come out.

This was a very suspenseful and entertaining page-turner. It was a great book to read while I had a few days off around the holidays. Thanks, sister!

**Warning: This book contains some racy content that might be inappropriate for my younger readers out there.